Another Mother Runner Podcast Episode

Each spring I highlight my favorite podcasts to listen to.  Another Mother Runner has appeared on that list more than once, and for good reason.  So I was honored to be a part of the latest episode #282 Real Moms Run Milestone Races.  Two years ago I ran my 40th marathon on my 40th birthday around Daybreak Lake, and what a run it was!  It was by far my slowest marathon, but it felt like it flew by (even if my legs didn’t feel like they were flying).  Take a listen as I describe the day to Sarah and Coach Amanda.  And stick around to listen to the other three mother runners relive their milestone runs.  One involves pie.  Mmmmm….  pie.

Click on the link below to listen, or download the podcast from iTunes or Stitcher.

https://anothermotherrunner.com/2017/10/20/282-real-moms-run-milestone-races/

Top of Utah Marathon 2017

Race reports aren’t really interesting to anyone but the runner, but to not record this day seems wrong.

First, let me honest.  Marathons are really hard.  I mean, REALLY hard.  And they’re getting harder as I get older.  That’s okay.  I can handle the physical pain.  What’s been eating away at me is the stress surrounding marathons, most of it self-imposed.  I’m not elite by any stretch.  But I’m locally competitive.  Over the last 10 years and 46 marathons, I’ve placed in the majority of local races, most overall places.  For a girl who never ran more than a mile in P.E. class growing up, I’m really proud of all I’ve accomplished, especially since my initial goal when I signed up for my first marathon was simply not to embarrass myself.

The night before my first TOU.

Once I started to realize I had a tiny speck of talent in my legs, the stress went through the roof.  I expected a lot from myself.  When you know how good it feels to do well, it makes not doing well feel even worse.  Blah, blah, blah.  These problems aren’t even really problems.  But over the years, racing stopped being fun.

So, I started traveling to races where no one knew me and the expectations disappeared.  Amsterdam.  Berlin.  New York. Boston.  Eugene.  Those are the races I enjoyed most.

I’d met every goal I’d set for my marathoning self, and then some.  I’ve placed overall in every major Utah marathon- even St. George.  I’ve run three sub-3 hour races.  I’ve won a couple marathons and a few half-marathons.  I’ve set a few course records in the overalls and master’s divisions.  I’ve won the Utah Grand Slam three times.  I only had one more goal to check off my list.

I wanted a moose clock.

My first TOU.

 

The Top of Utah Marathon rewards its most loyal athletes (runners who’d run the race 10 times) with a gorgeous oak moose clock, and I’ve coveted it since the first time I ran TOU in 2008.  Last year, my 9th year, the threat of TOU not returning was real due to low registration.  I begged the race directors not to cancel 2017.  How sad would I be to get this close to running my 10th TOU and not get that clock? (Answer- very, very sad.)  Oh happy day when they decided to move forward with this year’s race.

My second TOU. Ali was 2. She’s now 10!

As the day drew close, my nerves got worse.  Race day felt like a dark cloud keeping me from enjoying the fall season.  My life was dissected into pre and post race day plans.  Training had gone okay.  I knew I wouldn’t be setting any PR’s, but I wasn’t feeling injured or exhausted.  Yet, the night before in my hotel room, my heart was pounding in my chest as though it was my first race ever.  To calm myself down, I decided this year would be my last local marathon.

Morning finally came and I boarded the bus to the start.  I won’t bore you with a mile by mile breakdown.  But here are the highlights.

Me, Tyler, and Jill at one of many TOU finish lines. 2012?

At it’s height, TOU attracted more than 2000 runners.  Last weekend there were fewer than 400.  It’s a beautiful course with the best directors and volunteers, so this fact keeps me shaking my head as I watch the numbers dwindle more each year.  The only positive note is it’s easy to get into a port-o-potty!

My first moose trophy!

My running/racing partner Tyler decided to meet me at mile 14 to help me run the last 12.  Mile 14 is also where my husband and daughter Ali would be to cheer me on.  So, goal #1, get thyself to mile 14.  I ran the first half in 1:31.  Not bad, but I knew the second half would be much slower.  My right hamstring was a little achy, but my right shoulder which I separated in a bad bike crash in June 2016 was on fire, and not in a good way.  The nerve endings all up and down my arm and into my neck and shoulder started talking back around mile 7.  By mile 14 they were screaming.

Coming out of the canyon. Never have I been so happy to see my friends and family.

The canyon is gorgeous.  Fall is sprinkled through the trees, and when the morning light hits that canyon it’s like fireworks exploding on the hillside.  I don’t run with music, so the sound of the stream rushing downhill alongside the road makes for a meditative run.

While I usually do math in my head to distract me from running, this year all my thoughts were about running.  I thought a lot about how far I’ve come.  How running has changed me inside and out.  How what started off as an activity to burn off a few extra pounds became a mental life raft.  I thought about the first marathon I finished.  The first sub-3.  The first marathon win.  I thought of the friends I’ve met, and the relationships I’ve forged.  I thought about my birthday marathon around Daybreak Lake.  I thought about Boston 2013, and then Boston 2014.  I thought about the peace I still feel even on the most painful runs.

Meeting Kaitlynne, my oldest, at mile 14 at the mouth of the canyon in 2012.

The miles ticked by and then, there it was. Mile 14.  I told Tyler if I’d been adequately hydrated, I’d have wept for joy I was so happy to see him.  While the first 14 miles are down the gorgeous Blacksmith Fork Canyon, the last 12 are a twisty turny journey through hills and neighborhoods.  He distracted me as he told stories of his previous week’s run with Alicia, his sister and my high school friend, as he paced her the last 33 miles of her 100-mile ultra.  100 miles.  People do this.  Seriously.

This guy. We’ve logged a lot of miles together. He keeps me from losing my mind more often than not. Mile 19 in 2017.

The best part of TOU is the ease with which spectators can cheer on their runners.  I saw my family a few more times before the finish.  Somewhere around mile 19 my side began to cramp.  It’s been an issue since my hysterectomy in December.  I’d hoped it wouldn’t rear it’s ugly head, but it did.  It’s not the kind of cramp I can run through, so I walked.  I never walk in a race.  But over the next seven miles, I walked through every aid station and then some.

Ali patiently waiting for me to finish.

The last mile felt like ten.  But finally, there was the finish line.  Rick and Elfi Ortenburger were there to cheer me and a few other friends to the finish.  My husband and daughter Ali were on the other side.  I tried to high-five them, but by this point I couldn’t lift my arm.  But they could tell how grateful I was that they were there.  I crossed the finish line in 3:13, fourth overall woman.  Second in the female master’s division.  I stumbled through the finish chute, grabbed my medal with my good arm, found a chair to sit on and cried.

The finish line 2017

 

Trying to high-five Christian.

They were tears of relief, sadness, elation and disappointment all rolled together.  Relief the race was done.  Sadness that it was the last marathon.  Elation I had placed.  Disappointment it was my worst finish time in over seven years.  There were a few tears of pain mixed in there, too.

Top five overall women 2017

After the awards ceremony, I sat down in the park where the finish line festivities are held just so I could soak it in a little longer.  Now it’s three days later.  Rumor has it that next year will be the last year for TOU.  It will be the 20th running.  With so few runners, they aren’t breaking even.  Every year they lose more.  There is no shortage of runners, but there is no shortage of races, either, others offering more downhill than TOU.  This continues to break my heart as TOU is so personally special to me.  The race directors love their runners and it shows in the care they offer.  The volunteers, the one-of-a-kind awards, their enthusiasm- it all makes for a day like no other.

My ten-year clock and beautiful moose trophy.

I loudly declared this would be my last local marathon for awhile, but I’m not sure I can miss next year, especially since it’s their 20th anniversary, and definitely if it’s their last year.

Center Street Grill. A TOU family tradition.

Sitting at the Center Street Grille with my family munching on onion rings and burgers, taking in the fall colors, and enjoying the cool breeze after a tough race, I didn’t want to be anywhere else.  Life changes. Priorities shift.  Bodies grow older.  But TOU remains a unique and emotional yearly event and I’m not sure I’m ready to let that go.  My heart says “Yes” while my body says “No.”

To be continued…

My beautiful family in 2015.

The Amsterdam Marathon

 

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Click on this link below for a short video of the Amsterdam Marathon finish line

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Time is a funny thing.  It feels like I’ve been gone forever, and yet never left.  For 8 glorious days, I had the good fortune to wander around the Netherlands.  I ate many waffles, Dutch pancakes, Belgium chocolate, and poffertjes (look it up- they’re heavenly), but it was all good because I ran off every last carb during the Amsterdam Marathon.

Poffertjes with strawberries and ice cream. This is dinner.
Poffertjes with strawberries and ice cream. This is dinner.

The beauty of this course can’t be exaggerated.  The friendliness of the volunteers, fellow runners, and race organizers can’t be overemphasized.  This was a larger race with 16,000 marathoners and 18,000 half marathoners.  There was also an 8K the same day with around 3,000.  As large as it was, it felt like a small town race with all the small town feels.  In short, I loved it.  The course was flat which meant my legs weren’t beat up and I was able to walk the city for the rest of the week with little pain and discomfort.

A view of the Amsterdam Marathon course at Mile 20
A view of the Amsterdam Marathon course at Mile 20
The Amstel River. Mile 10 of the Amsterdam Marathon.
The Amstel River. Mile 10 of the Amsterdam Marathon.

 

This is good because there were many chocolate shops to visit along the way.  No time goals for this race.  I took video and pictures and soaked in the atmosphere.  Click on the link below to read about this latest running adventure.  (Fair warning- I wrote this with a jet-lag hangover, so it’s not my best work).

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865665476/The-Amsterdam-Marathon.html

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Race Report- Top of Utah 2016

Top of Utah Marathon
Female Master’s Winner and new course record holder with 3:06

Strangely enough, this is my first race report of the year.  Usually by this time I’ve run 6 marathons, a few halfs, a relay and a random 10K here and there.  This year, nothing.  Unless you count the century bike ride that abruptly ended at mile 23.  It’s been a heckuva year.

Full disclosure, those days of running races every weekend are over for me.  The desire is no longer there.  Weekends spent tapering and recovering, packing and planning don’t sound even remotely fun anymore.  What sounds fun is a nice long run early Saturday morning starting at my doorstep and ending on my front lawn.  Long run promptly followed by lunch and lounging around the house.  Absolutely dreamy!

That said, I only signed up for three marathons.  Two local and one in Amsterdam (coming up in 4 weeks!).  My first race, Utah Valley, was canceled after Shelly and I crashed our bikes at the Little Red Riding Hood century ride.  Grade 3 AC separation and a fractured right hand kept me from toeing the start line the following week.  I was a little disappointed, but not really.  Not a fan of that race or it’s 3:30 am wake-up call.

For the next few months I focused solely on recovery with my eyes set on the Top of Utah Marathon.  The recovery went well with only a few speed bumps along the way.  I clawed my way back to what I felt was the best shape I could be in at my age (41) and given the physical challenges of the past year.  With a couple weeks until race day, I felt as ready as I could expect and was excited to see the outcome.  I had high, albeit secret, expectations.

Top of Utah Marathon
Ready or not!

I should know by now never to let my expectations get high.

Continue reading “Race Report- Top of Utah 2016”

From the Archives- Boston 2012

Boston 2012
My friend Tracy and I at the Boston 2012 start. Notice the absence of any warm clothing. Ugh.

This is an article I wrote for the Deseret News the day after I ran the 2012 Boston Marathon.   It was a special day since my parents and my grandmother were all out to watch me run.  My grandmother had never seen me race before.  Sadly, my grandpa had already passed away.  I thought of him a lot and of how proud he would have been to watch me run.  It was an awful race.  80 degree start.  90 degree finish.  Factor in the heat radiating off the pavement at the end and, well, it was ugly.  It’s the only Boston Marathon where I’ve sought medical attention.  I was woozy and sick to my stomach at the end.  The medics doused me with water, forced me to eat a bag of magical potato chips and VOILA!  I was better!  Kind of.  It was a long and rough recovery.  Because it wasn’t the greatest of days, I immediately made plans to return in 2013.  I’ll post that recap later.  For now, enjoy.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

Warning: this post may contain one graphic image. It’s also very long. Settle in.

The fact that this post exists is a miracle in and of itself. I’m figuring out how to navigate typing with my dominant arm in a sling. In fact, I’m figuring out how to do everything with my dominant arm in a sling. I’m realizing how important thumbs are to overall life function and just how tricky ponytails can be with almost no range of motion in one arm. I’ve also learned my husband stinks at ponytails, too.

But all that being said, I need to say I am fine. My friend Shelly is fine. But there were some moments this weekend when we weren’t sure we would be fine. After ten years of road cycling, we finally had our big crash.

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Boston 2013

Boston 2013, Mile 26
Boston 2013, Mile 26

“… let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

April 2010- 114th Boston Marathon- My first Boston Marathon. I wore my name on my shirt following the advice of a friend who’d run the race many times. I felt like a rock star the entire way as people shouted out my name.

Boston 2013
My daughter Kaitlynne seeing me off as I head to the start line of my first Boston Marathon 2010.

As I reached the middle of Heartbreak Hill, I heard my name. Slowly at first, but the closer I got the the top, the louder and faster the chanting became. I looked ahead to see a large group of Boston College boys cheering my name in unison. As I reached the peak, they broke out into deafening applause as though they had conquered the hill themselves. It almost made me want to turn around and climb it all over again. Almost.

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